Tarifa is a paradise for every windsurfer. You can go there to learn, to improve or simply to enjoy. It’s the windsurfing mecca in Europe. I apologize to the other very good spots, but Tarifa is different.
Very close to the strait of Gibraltar, Tarifa receive oceanic waters but keep the calm the Mediterranean sea brings. During summer time it becomes a very demanded touristic destination, which brings good things and bad ones.

My favorite season to visit Tarifa is spring and maybe autumn too. May, June, September and October are especially suitable for those just looking to windsurf, enjoy the nature and the warm of a very charming town.

Tarifa smells to windsurf, anybody who loves this sport must go there at least once in a lifetime.

Location

Tarifa is located in the Province of Cadiz, belonging to the Community of Andalucia in Spain. It’s a town with more or less 20.000 inhabitants and surrounded by the Alcornocales (Cork oak) National Park and the Estrecho (strait) National Park. La Duna (the dune) of Bolonia belongs to the latest, one of the most beautiful natural scenes of the area.

The beaches of Tarifa are the Playa Chica, Los Lances, Valdevaqueros y Punta Paloma. During high season it’s only allowed to sail in Valdevaqueros and Punta Paloma. The rest of the beaches are reserved for swimmers.

Playa de Bolonia, TarifaFrom Tarifa to the west you can find one after the other the best beaches of Cadiz. Bolonia, El Cañuelo, Playa de los Alemanes, Zahara de los Atunes and Barbate are examples of this beaches. Visit them and enjoy. In all of them you can windsurf, but you have to be careful with the restrictions during high season. Bolonia (pic) it’s especially breathtaking.

Access to Tarifa is through the national route N-340, which goes from Cadiz to Algeciras. The communication by road with the closest towns can be a little bit chaotic during summer time. The closest airports are in Gibraltar, Malaga, Jerez and Seville. I advise you to take a look to the Transports point of this post to get the full picture of it.

Here you have a video, produced by Andalusian TV with a general overview of what you can find in this great destination. It’s in Spanish but you can activate subtitles in english.

Characteristics of the spot

The spots in Tarifa are known to be flat water with the Levante wind, which is ideal for learning. However it’s also usual the have very strong winds.

Tarifa, un spot para todos los gustosDuring high season, which goes from March to November, it’s very rare to have a no wind day. If Levante (most common during high season) doesn’t come, the normal thing is to have thermic Poniente. A moderated wind perfect for learning.
When Poniente wind blows you can also find some very welcomed wave sessions. This usually happens during low season, it’s a secret the locals keep very well.

With Levante, water can be quite choppy and you may find good ramps to jump. But that will depend on the wind direction.

Tarifa is a safe place to sail, the wind in general is side shore and there are rescue boats during the whole season. As free advice, only people are rescued for free. Rescuing the equipment cost money. However, you can buy some vouchers at the schools, just in case.

The biggest risk I see in Tarifa is that is really crowded during July and August. As it’s a place where a lot of people goes to learn, so many people in the water is dangerous. Especially if you mix windsurf and kitesurf. Anyway, taking some precautions it’s a risk you can manage, and in no case should discourage you to visit Tarifa.

Wind

Rosa de los vientos - TarifaWe overviewed it in the previous chapter, but now we’ll go deeper analyzing wind behavior in Tarifa.
The image on the right shows the wind rose for this area during the year. As you can see, the most frequent wind are from the East (Levante) and from the West (Poniente).
Which it’s clear is that you will have wind, and a lot of it. Tarifa is a safe bet in this matter.

Seasons

Tarifa has wind all year around. However, the high season goes from April to September, with predominancy of Levante. March, October and November are mid season where 50% of the days are sailable.

Low season goes from December to February where we can also find some good Poniente days.

Estadistica de viento - Tarifa

www.windfinder.com

Levante

Rosa verano - TarifaTarifa is famous due to the Levante wind. In the image of the left, you can find the winds expected during summer. This wind is generally more intense than Poniente, sometimes reaching values of 10 or 11 in the Beaufort scale. Which correspond to violent storm.
It’s a warm wind generated in the Mediterranean Sea and accelerated in the Gibraltar strait. It’s also a very dry wind as it comes from the continent.

When you have Levante in Tarifa, you have it. I mean, you can have a whole week with the wind blowing, day and night. This, for the windsurfers may sound perfect, for the rest of the people (including partners) may be a nightmare. With a good levantera (is how people say when Levante comes) is not possible to go to the beach if your plan isn’t practice windsurf. And if it is, I highly advise you to know what you’re doing.

Putting the focus  on sailing, we can say that this is usually a gusty wind. The area of Valdevaqueros is the best in this sense. The wind is more constant there than in other spots.

Depending on where you sail, wind can be side-shore, side-off or even off-shore (if you don’t know what I’m talking about I recommend you to read this post).

Poniente

Rosa invierno - TarifaPoniente wind is generated in the Atlantic Ocean, is a wet and constant wind.
The image on the right shows the winds expected in winter.
It’s a moderated wind, which accelerates during the afternoons joining forces with the thermic wind so characteristic in Tarifa.
This is the wind every one of the windsurfing schools are waiting because is the perfect one to learn.

During mid and low season, Poniente comes with waves. This is what locals are expecting as you have a combo with perfect wind, waves and plenty of space to windsurf without summer overcrowding.
Thermic Poniente is generated in summer due to the temperature difference between shore and water. It’s higher in the area of Punta Paloma because of the dune, it generates a Venturi effect on it. Even if you have a forecast of no wind, in this area you can be sure that it will come. Since we have the foil, it’s possible to be almost sure that you will sail every day in summer.

Schools and equipment rental

One of the very positive points in Tarifa is the wide offer of schools and places to rent the gear. We all know that traveling with our gear is not always an option, or at least is not comfortable. Here that’s not a problem.

You may be interested in – Interview to Hugo Miravalles

Hereafter you can find a list of the main places to book a course or to rent your equipment.

Laduna Tarifa
Services:
Windsurf, Kite, SUP and Foil school.
Gear rent for windsurf, Kite, SUP, Surf.
Equipment: Goya
Address: Punta Paloma – CN 340, Km 74
Telephone: +34 669 865 555
Web: Laduna Tarifa
Comment: Blog subscribers can have a 5% discount. Please follow this link for more details. The school is near the Volare bar.

Ion Club Tarifa
Services:
Windsurf, Kite and SUP school.
Gear rent for windsurf, Kite and SUP.
Equipment: Fanatic – Duotone
Address: Valdevaqueros – CN 340, Km 76
Telephone: +34 956 68 90 98
Web: Ion Club
Comment: The school is near the Tumbao.

Surfcenter Tarifa
Services:
Windsurf, Kite, SUP and Surf school.
Gear rent for windsurf, Kite, SUP, Surf.
Equipment: Goya
Address: Los Lances Norte – CN 340, Km 79,3
Telephone: +34 664 171 596
Web: Surfcentertarifa
Comment: The school is near the Hotel Arte y Vida.

Sipinout
Services:
Windsurf and Kite school.
Gear rent for windsurf and Kite.
Equipment: Tabou – Gaastra
Address: Valdevaqueros – CN 340, Km 75,5
Telephone: +34 956 236 362
Web: Tarifa Spinout
Comment: The school is near the Tangana bar.

Sailboards Tarifa
Services:
Windsurf and Kite school.
Gear rent for windsurf, Kite, SUP, Surf and Kayak.
Equipment: SBT custom, Eazzy Sails
Address: C/ El Lentiscal, Bolonia
Telephone: +34 626 271 806
Web: Sailboards Tarifa
Comment: Located in Tarifa and in Bolonia beach.

As a final advice, in Tarifa you can find a wide offer of gear and courses. Not all of them with the proper habilitation and insurances needed according to the local law. When everything goes well we always look for the cheaper price, the problem comes when something goes wrong. My recommendation is to go always with authorized schools.

Transport

The only way to reach Tarifa is by road. Well, technically you can go there by ferry from Tanger but let’s forget about this option. From Malaga and from Seville you have the option of a bus, transfers or renting a car.

If you come from outside Spain, I recommend you to book a flight to Malaga or Seville. The exception to this could be if you come from the UK, where the possibility of flying to Gibraltar could be a good option too.

You can look for the flight with our search box. You simply have to put the destination, the dates and press “Go sailing!” to access to the best flight deals. To know more about flying with windsurf equipment please check this page and this post.

Bus

If you bring your own gear I would discharge this option. Going by bus is valid if you come with no luggage because you will have to go from the airport to the bus station. Then take one bus to Tarifa, probably you will have to make a bus change in Algeciras. Finally you will have to go from Tarifa bus station to your accommodation.

If you want to go by bus anyway, here you have the best options:

From Malaga

The best option is with Autobuses Portillo. They have a line going to Cadiz with a stop in Tarifa, the journey has a duration of approximately 2 to 4 hours, depending on whether it’s the semi-direct or normal. Other option is to take the bus with destination Algeciras and there you can take a bus from the company Transportes COMES to Tarifa.

From Seville

From Seville you must take the line Sevilla – Linea de la Concepcion with the company Transportes COMES. It has a stop in Tarifa. The duration is 3 hours approximately.

Car renting

If you choose to rent a car, is better if you do it at the airport. Either from Seville or Malaga almost the whole road is a highway. The only setback of this option is the parking during high season, it can be a nightmare.

Check cars availability here!

Accommodation

The first thing I’ll say about accommodation in Tarifa is that you must book it as soon as possible if you’re traveling during high season. It’s really one of the big problems I see to this destination, in July and August it’s overcrowded.

Really everything is collapsed and finding accommodation becomes very difficult, booking for dinner is a hard task, finding parking is impossible, etc. Anyway, it’s Tarifa and it worth the pain.

There are many options for accommodation in Tarifa. Hotel, Hostels, rooms or houses through AirBnb, Campings, etc.

The first decision you must take is choosing between town or the surroundings.



Booking.com

The downtown has the advantage of being in the core of the atmosphere, the restaurants, the bars. Also, with the exception of going to windsurf, you can do everything else by foot. Against staying in town, I can say it’s difficult to find parking and it could be a little bit noisy.

Staying outside town has the advantage of making the way to the beach a lot easier, it’s clearly more quiet and it’s easier to find accommodation too. There are hotels, campings, houses, etc. It has the setback that if you want to go out for dinner or partying in Tarifa, you have to take the car.

Camping

Along the coast from Tarifa to Punta Paloma you can find several campings. All of them are well prepared and fully booked several weeks before the high season starts. Here you have the web pages for some of them. The order is from closest to farthest from town.

Camping Paloma – Camping Jardín de las Dunas – Camping ValdevaquerosCamping Torre de la Peña

Vans, Campervans and Motorhomes

Going in your van, campervan or motorhome to Tarifa is a great trip. It’s a perfect place for this kind of journey due to the atmosphere and the natural surroundings. However, please bear in mind that Tarifa is surrounded by National Parks and it’s strictly prohibited to spend the night in the parks. Of course, you’re not allowed in the beach either, and there the fines are fat.

You can book a place in the campings for the van, also in town you have places to park and in Bolonia beach there is a Campervan parking too.

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Where to eat

Uffff. Here I can spend several hours writing as Tarifa has a very good gastronomic offer. To make it short, as this information can be found in TripAdvisor or any other webpage, I’ll just tell you the places I like the most. I give you total freedom to recommend any other one in the comments right bellow the post.

Here you have my top 10

  • Having breakfast in Surla
  • A really good dinner in Silos 19
  • Some “tapas” in Los Melli
  • The pizzas of La Tribu Playa
  • Really good meat at La Vaca Loca
  • The Moroccan buffet at Souk
  • Also a good breakfast in La Tarifeña
  • Off season (otherwise is impossible to get there), some “tapas” at El Francés
  • If you’re going to eat in a “chiringuito”, without any doubt I choose Tangana
  • Finally, all the charms of the restaurant El Mirlo

Other activities

We can’t deny that Tarifa’s atmosphere is really attached to nautical sports. However, there are options for the no wind days. Especially for the night, with or without wind…

Beach

If besides sailing we want to spend some good moments at the beach, with music and good vibes, Tarifa offers a wide variety of options.

Playas de Tarifa - TheWindsurfingBlog

Arte y Vida – This is the closest “chiringuito” (which means bar at the beach) to Tarifa. Very good atmosphere. A good area with grass for those one who don’t want to suffer the sand blowing with the Levante. If you’re an early bird, you can find a table to eat and spend the afternoon.

Chiringuito Tumbao – Here is where you will find the noise, some afternoons even with DJs for a very animated sunsets. They have also a very good grass area with a bar to have the first drinks. It’s the place to by if you’re in the party mood.

Chiringuito Tangana – A little bit more quiet than the above but still animated. It has a very good gastronomic offer.

Chiringuito Volare – It’s the more familiar of the chiringuitos. Just next to the dune of Punta Paloma, it’s a place to spend a quiet beach day, if the Levante allows it.

My plan when visiting Tarifa is sometimes to rig my gear at Volare, going upwind to Tangana and spend some time over there. Then go upwind again to Tumbao and spend another time over there. Finally come back downwind full speed to Volare. Highly recommended journey.

After beach

If we want to make the beach time longer than daylight, Tarifa offer several places. They have the advantage of being in town, so if we want to have some drinks we won’t be worried for the coming back home. Those ones with the music and drinks mood, can find some options over here.:

Waikiki – Very good music and drinks. Really good atmosphere after sunset.

Mandala – A place with pool in front of the beach. For those days with the wind blowing and making the beach an uncomfortable option, this is a good choice.

Café del Mar Beach – Really good atmosphere and good music. It’s not properly a chiringuito but it’s really good.

Tarifa’s nightlife

Well, the nights in Tarifa are dangerous. I’m not talking about safety, in that aspect you won’t have more problems than in any other place. I’m talking about going out for a beer and coming back home at 7am, if you’re lucky. There is a good atmosphere and it’s really funny.

Usually people starts the journey at the alley, where you can find the Tacos Way, the Mambo, the Tomatito, the Cateto, etc. At the end of the day, the bar you choose doesn’t matter, people drinks on the street, talking and meeting new friends.

Cafe del Mar - TheWindsurfingBlogA little bit later people divide. The posh ones :-) goes to La Diosa, others prefer La Teteria, Soul Café or La Ruina. It’s in those places where the night goes to cruise mode and finally people ends in Mombassa or Café Del Mar. Those who look for pop music, reggeton and a disco atmosphere will choose Mombassa. The ones looking for a touch of electronic music and the possibility of a terrace will go to Café del Mar.

The truth is that no one will go home early. And that’s why the Poniente always come in the afternoon ;-)

No windsurf and no drinks..

And here we are, this is the part where I have to write about what to do in Tarifa besides windsurfing or going out. The problem with that is that I don’t know. There are several options, whale sightseeing, birds sightseeing, hiking routes, horse riding, etc. But after many years going to Tarfia I’ve never done anything besides windsurf and going out. My bad.

So I’m sorry but this part you must find it in another blog. Maybe someone help us in the comments!!!

Well, that’s all folks!! I hope you enjoyed the reading and found this post useful. If so please don’t forget to subscribe to be up to date with the blog news. Good winds and see you soon!!!

Tarifa, the European windsurf Mecca
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